A selection of paintings that survived a Russian attack on the Ukrainian museum that housed them has gone on display at the Saatchi Gallery in London. The paintings, by one of Ukraine’s best-loved artists, Maria Prymachenko have never been seen in the UK, so this is a very timely show of her work to remind us of the artistic cost of the war as well as its human cost.

Maria Prymachenko, born in 1908 was a self-taught folk artist, whose work gained widespread acclaim during her life, noted for her bold and expressive paintings that combined many of the traditional Ukrainian motifs in new ways During the 1960s to 1980s, her style continued to develop, with paintings having an increasingly vibrant colour palette and a new choice of bright backgrounds for her works. She also developed an idea of including short phrases or proverbs on the reverse of her canvases, which related to the topic of the work.

She died in 1997, having spent almost her entire life in the village where she was born, and much of her works were collected in Kyiv’s national folk art museum.

This exhibition includes 23 works by Prymachenko, and some hang in the air as they are double-sided, providing an insight into the self-taught artist’s working processes and methods. The works, conceived initially as illustrations for a children’s book, reflect life in a small village in the Kyiv region through magical and naïve imagery.

Earlier this year, the museum where she was born was targetted by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, with the loss of many of her paintings, although locals rushed into the burning building to save what they could,

Some of her paintings have now made the trip to London to go on show for the first time in the UK.

Most of the paintings are autobiographical, and tell the stories of her childhood, intermixed with the many fantastical creatures, birds and plants she dreamt of. It’s a collection of visual narratives from a rural life 50 years ago under Soviet control, but lacking the politics of the time.

Next to many of the wall hung paintings are the messages that she inscribed onto the backs of them, in Ukrainian, with an English translation explaining the meaning behind the painting.

The display is very much of a certain taste – it’s folk art, and not refined or polished, but that’s much of its charm. I found a number of them reminded me strongly of Islamic art in the representations of the gardens, while the beasts leap out from children’s books.

The woman who painted them only wanted to capture her rural life, but thanks to Russia’s invasion, they’ve gained an unexpected, and frankly, quite unwelcome, political aspect that really shouldn’t be there.

That though is why as many people should see the exhibition as possible, in silent support for Ukraine.

The exhibition, Maria Prymachenko is at the Saatchi Gallery in Chelsea until 31st August and is free to visit.

It’s open daily from 10am to 6pm.


Be the first to know what's on in London, and the latest news published on ianVisits.

You can unsubscribe at any time from my weekly emails.

Tagged with:

This website has been running now for over a decade, and while advertising revenue contributes to funding the website, it doesn't cover the costs. That is why I have set up a facility with DonorBox where you can contribute to the costs of the website and time invested in writing and research for the news articles.

It's very similar to the way The Guardian and many smaller websites are now seeking to generate an income in the face of rising costs and declining advertising.

Whether it's a one-off donation or a regular giver, every additional support goes a long way to covering the running costs of this website, and keeping you regularly topped up doses of Londony news and facts.

If you like what you read on here, then please support the website here.

Thank you

One comment
  1. Ruth Larson says:

    The art exhibition at the Saachi Gallery showing works by Maria Prymachenko has been extended until 20 Sept .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Home >> News >> London exhibitions